House of Commons Hansard #9 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was industry.

Topics

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member raised a couple of good points that we need to consider with regard to Kyoto.

It has often been described by most people as a baby step. It is important to recognize that Kyoto is just the beginning in terms of what we need to do to turn the planet around to be sustainable. Kyoto and the terminology that has been used to express it, the devastation that it would wreak upon our businesses, our communities, our lifestyles and all those different things, just shows the fear that has been propagated out there. It is not accurate. Kyoto is just a baby step in dealing with this.

Sure we could go down this path if we wanted to use green credits or something similar with regard to nuclear power. I do not think that is right. We should be moving to more sustainable energy and exporting that if we can through wind and other energy efforts. Conservation has not been talked about as something we need to do as a society.

Kyoto is just the start of things in terms of turning the planet around. If we want to use nuclear power as a way of being able to escape it in the sense of not doing our part, that would be wrong. I hope that our government would not head down that road. If it does create those additional byproducts that are so bad for our society and so bad for our environment and which would leave a legacy, and they are literally a legacy for other people to deal with, then that is wrong.

Kyoto can be an important start and we do not have to use nuclear energy as a way of doing that. That would be a terrible decision by our government. It would be a backhanded slap on Kyoto and not really deal with the issue in terms of creating the sustainable energy we need through products that are going to be a benefit for us in the long term and not let other people deal with it.

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Lévis-Et-Chutes-De-La-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the new member for Windsor West on his speech.

In short, what is being proposed by the government is to take responsibilities away from financial institutions with regard to any future needs for decontamination.

I would like to hear the member's views on that. It seems obvious to me that financial institutions fear the effects and the impossibility of eliminating nuclear waste. That in fact is why they have asked the government to introduce this amendment.

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, those were great points.

One of the biggest things with regard to this whole amendment is allowing people to escape responsibility and that is not right. One should not be able to escape responsibility. If one is going to invest in something, then one should own up to it with regard to getting a benefit but also be responsible at the end of the day for what it causes for everyone else.

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

October 10th, 2002 / 12:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca.

I am pleased to speak to Bill C-4, the reincarnation of Bill C-57, an act to amend the Nuclear Safety and Control Act.

The bill is necessary to correct a clause that prevents debt financing by the private sector for the nuclear industry. Lenders such as banks and other financial institutions are refusing to consider approval for loans to the nuclear industry because the clause in the current act makes the lenders liable in the case of a nuclear spill.

This week Ontario residents are opening up their electricity bills to find that the rates charged are double what they were on their last bills. This is due in part to power providers having to purchase electricity from the U.S. to meet the unexpectedly high demands during the summer just past.

Canada has the highest rate of taxes in the G-8 and that, combined with the government's seeming reluctance to pay down the national debt as fast as reasonably possible, have contributed to our dollar having just half the value of the American dollar. Therefore, Ontario electricity providers must fork over twice as much when purchasing power from the United States.

Units in two of Ontario's nuclear power generating plants have been out of service. It takes money to upgrade reactors and due to the flaw in the original legislation, capital could not be accessed to do the necessary servicing to get the plants working at their maximum capacities.

Ontario electricity consumers can also directly attribute their astronomically high bills to the federal Liberals' democratic deficit. Legislation is rammed through without proper scrutiny because of the concentration of power in the Prime Minister's Office. Committees have become mere tokens in the parliamentary system because Liberal MPs are herded in for votes without even knowing what the motion is about that they are voting on, understanding only that they must obey their whips or suffer retribution. Indeed, Parliament as a whole has become dysfunctional, not just tainted by the Liberal corruption but because Liberal MPs are not permitted to think for themselves.

If the government had drafted the Nuclear Safety and Control Act correctly the first time, fixed income recipients in Ontario, those on disability and CPP retirement pensions, may not have been put in the predicament they now find themselves in. To add insult to injury, the Liberals are making a killing on their negligence because GST is charged not only on the cost of the energy distributed but on the debt repayment portion of the Ontario hydro bill. That $5, $10 or $50 extra in GST might not be a lot of money to the members across the way who dispense cash to their friends and family in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, but to the people in my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, it symbolizes the disdain the Liberals have for everyday Canadians.

To exacerbate the situation, power companies are demanding payment two weeks sooner. This means that instead of a bill coming due on the eighth of next month, it is due on the 24th of this month. People in Ontario had no way of predicting this price hike. For those who do not receive an income cheque until the end of the month, the bills are due at the beginning of November and interest and late penalty charges will be levied on top.

Money borrowed for nuclear power producers also goes into science research and development. Significant research is being conducted into means of disposing of spent fuel and waste.

For example, just a few months ago at Chalk River Laboratories, we celebrated the official opening of the modular above ground storage facility. For AECL senior vice-president Dave Torgerson, and the project manager, Ken Philipose, it was a moment to mark achievement. The facility's supervisor, Murray Wright, demonstrated how the supercompactor works. Under the direction of Dr. Colin Allan, decommissioning and waste management methods are continuously evolving.

The question of long term disposal of spent fuel and waste is a hurdle in promoting nuclear power as a clean, affordable energy source. Power generated by our nation's Candu technology is the cleanest, safest, most efficient in the world. Whereas the burning of fossil fuel results in tonnes of noxious gases being released into the atmosphere, spent fuel from nuclear reactors remains safely contained in vessels. Currently, spent fuel can be safely stored for decades, but a long term disposal method is being pursued.

Nature is giving scientists clues into disposal methods, because at least 17 nuclear reactors exist in nature herself. For example, there is the Oklo uranium deposit in the West African country of Gabon. Due to the natural decay of radioactive elements, its concentrations were much higher in the past. Groundwater flowing through the deposit acted as a neutron moderator so that uranium fission reactions started spontaneously and continued for hundreds of thousands of years. The site at Oklo forms a valuable laboratory for studying how nature disposes of radioactive wastes from nuclear reactors. The fission products have long ago decayed to stable elements. Close study has shown that the stable daughter products have not migrated from the site and have remained remarkably immobile.

The Prime Minister has decreed that Canada will ratify the Kyoto protocol, a treaty designed to transfer wealth from Canada to emerging economies in Africa and other third world countries. He has stated point blank that consumers will bear the cost of Kyoto. Canadians will bear the cost in higher gasoline, natural gas and electricity prices.

In Ontario, where electricity bills have doubled already, people will not accept further energy increases, whether they be hidden taxes or openly categorized as some sort of green tax. GST revenues will snowball from the implementation of Kyoto. Factor Kyoto into gas prices, the possible conflict in Iraq, the already surging oil prices and the government is in for a GST windfall.

In addition to electricity to run our homes and businesses, the Canadian nuclear industry provides our citizens and people throughout the world with the gift of light. It is especially fitting that in October, Cancer Awareness Month, that we explain the vital role the nuclear industry has played in medicine. The science leading to cobalt therapy machines for cancer treatment was advanced through research activity surrounding the development of the Candu reactor. It gives people of the Ottawa Valley great satisfaction in knowing that MDS Nordion Maple reactors at Chalk River laboratories will continue to provide the world with over 70% of medical isotopes.

The technology behind MRIs emerged from the research done by scientists with the Chalk River reactor. Canada's own Bertram Neville Brockhouse won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1994 for designing the triple-axis neutron spectroscope and his use of it to investigate condensed matter.

Neutron scattering continues to generate knowledge about materials, which is key to the growth and improvement of many aspects of Canadian life, such as health. Neutron scattering reveals the structures of biological objects such as cell membranes, viruses, proteins, drugs, food, et cetera. Today, under the guidance of John Root of the National Research Council, the study of neutron scattering is thriving.

The fundamental questions of health, disease and life processes revolve around the way these molecular structures interact with each other. Neutrons provide a uniquely powerful method to get at this fundamental knowledge by looking at the materials in the realistic environments of excess water temperature and pH. This neutron scattering knowledge is completely non-destructive to the delicate biological materials and is a powerful complement to other methods where one has to dry out the material or make it into a crystalline form or alter the material by adding marker atoms.

Canadians have already developed a neutron scattering method to determine structures of simple viruses and to learn how viruses penetrate cell walls, the onset of disease and where a drug lodges in the membrane wall.

Construction of the Canadian neutron facility has yet to commence, which is another Liberal broken promise. The science generated through this project will help metallographers like Al Lockley, who analyzes microstructure of material to understand why things break, and will assist Ron Resmer in studying surface properties such as corrosion.

Making good on the 2000 election CNF promise is a necessary step in preventing future energy shortages. Bill C-4 will enable the private sector at home and abroad to partner with Canadians in the quest for neutron science.

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Lévis-Et-Chutes-De-La-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, we can tell the member's speech was well prepared. Obviously, people can say anything they want in a democracy.

Right from the beginning, she had questions. She wanted to know if members opposite always scrupulously toed the party line and did what they were told to do.

I want to put the same question to her. Does her speech reflect the party line and does she sometimes decide not to follow her whip's orders?

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for the question and for the compliment on the well researched speech. In regard to the question, I have recognized that the members opposite are in servitude to their whip and I can say with great confidence that up to this point I have never had to go against my whip on a vote.

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, first, I wish to thank my colleague from the Alliance Party in regard to her comments on taxation on utilities. She is absolutely right. The GST on utilities is something that seniors or those on fixed incomes just cannot handle. However she also said in her speech that nuclear energy is safe and cheap. Unfortunately she is wrong on both counts.

When it comes to nuclear energy, we have to take in the cost of the byproducts forever. What happens to the nuclear waste? She may well know that there is the Point Lepreau nuclear plant in New Brunswick. Just to get it up to standard will cost close to $900 million, and that is a conservative estimates at best. Following September 11, nuclear power plants are more a target now than they have ever been in their history.

Could she reiterate why she thinks nuclear power is safe and cheap?

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is particularly apropos that he recognizes that people in Ontario are being heavily taxed for their power. That is why a safe, efficient and clean form of electricity is really important to us in Ontario.

In terms of safety, if the member were to look at the accidents and deaths resulting from coal powered plants or the industries that mine and produce the coal for the industries, I think the member would find that there have been far more accidents than in nuclear industry. In fact there have been no deaths in Canada attributed to the nuclear industry.

In terms of cheap, it is becoming more cost effective and will become increasingly so with the implementation of the Kyoto protocol.

In so far as waste goes, only 1% of the fuel, the uranium, is transformed during the process.

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her speech. I continue to hear from the chattering group in the NDP a kind of a sucking and blowing sound at the same time. What we have is a group of people who are dead set against nuclear energy creation but totally supportive of the Kyoto accord. Of course it is just silliness.

What I would like the hon. member to comment on is another great thing that is supposed to save the world from all kinds of problems, the Ballard fuel cell. The creator of the Ballard fuel cell was quoted in the paper the other day as saying that we should not sign the Kyoto accord rather we should build more nuclear power plants because we will need them to create enough hydrogen to power the Ballard fuel cell. In other words, this debate about nuclear energy and the Kyoto accord needs to be taken holistically in the sense of how we will create sustainable, long term energy requirements for a western democracy.

Could the member comment on what she sees as the balance between growing energy requirements and the Kyoto accord, which the NDP would have us support but yet would dictate to many Canadians what type of power they would use in the future?

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think part of that sucking and blowing might be the members at the end of the room trying to get their fires started because there will to be a real shortage of energy coming this winter.

I thank the member for the question on the Ballard fuel cells because the beauty of a nuclear reactor is that when it is not generating electricity in its down phase it can be producing the hydrogen necessary to put into the fuel cells. The two technologies really go hand in hand.

Insofar as the balance between Kyoto and our emerging energy needs, it is interesting to note that nuclear generated power is so efficient that had we been allowed to allocate carbon credits toward the use of nuclear energy, Canada would have controlled the entire carbon credit market. That is how beneficial it is in terms of reducing greenhouse gases.

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, this has been a very interesting debate in the House on an exceedingly important issue, given the fact that Parliament will be asked to ratify or not to ratify the Kyoto accord.

I draw the attention of the House to a very important fact. There is a lot of misinformation or misnomers about nuclear power. It has its upsides and downsides, particularly with respect to effete fuel rods that are byproducts of nuclear power.

We are concerned about the reduction of pollution of not only greenhouse gas emissions which are not pollution because they are primarily carbon dioxide. However pollution from coal burning generators that produce various particulate matter causes many health problems particularly in southern Ontario and border states.

Here is a very important and interesting fact. With 40% of the global market share Canadian uranium is powering commercial reactors that void over one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

If we want to reduce carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions the question arises about how we will do it. It will not magically happen by virtue of doing nothing. We have an obligation to meet our power obligations and the energy requirements of a growing population. How are we to do it?

The answer that we can perhaps adopt is one that involves the adoption of a large array of different energy sources including nuclear power. The utilization of nuclear power in an appropriate setting will reduce pollution, will reduce carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, and will enable us to meet our energy demands.

It is not the whole answer by any means. As I mentioned we have to dispose of the fuel rods. That is a significant problem. There is a potential risk of problems with the reactor that can happen in any event, but we have to accept the fact that nuclear power is here to stay. We must use it in appropriate amounts and in balance with other energy sources.

The other side of the coin is how we meet our Kyoto requirements. How do we reduce our carbon dioxide emissions which are not, I might add, pollution as we have come to know it?

It is sad that Kyoto is a shell game. The way Canada has actually adopted Kyoto is not to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide that we as a country are supposed to do. Through an energy trading scheme we will actually enable our country to produce more greenhouse gas emissions in exchange for giving money to other countries that have larger carbon sinks, which are basically forests. That is what is happening.

All members of the House, including the public who is watching, want to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. Will Kyoto as we have organized it do that? The answer is a flat no because it is a shell game of moving around the ability of producing greenhouse gas emissions in exchange for paying money to other countries that do not produce as much as we do.

In effect, if Canada signs on to Kyoto we as a country will not reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. That is counterintuitive on the surface but those are the facts. Then the question arises of how we manage to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Last week I attended a very interesting breakfast meeting with a gentleman by the name of Mr. Anderson who runs a large company in the U.S. His company, a very energy demanding company, produces carpets. It managed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50%. How did the company do that? It did that by being able to conserve energy and increase the efficiencies of the process that entailed less demand.

His thesis is as follows. First, Canada can meet its greenhouse gas emissions under Kyoto and beyond by using available technologies to save energy. In the manner in which we build our buildings using existing technologies we can save huge amounts of money and huge amounts of energy utilization

Second, we need to use existing technologies in a manner in which other industries actually use their energy. There is much we can do in conservation, much we can do in efficiencies of energy utilization, much we can do in terms of increasing the carbon sinks that take carbon dioxide out of the environment and actually turn it into an innocent substance, water. If we crunch the numbers we will be able to meet our Kyoto requirements and beyond.

A man by the name of Ralph Torrie in Ottawa has crunched the numbers. He has come up with a very provocative set of solutions that will enable us to meet and go beyond those emissions standards, which is what we have to do anyway, and not take on the oil patch, interestingly enough. In the end 95% of our Kyoto requirements can be met by using energy resources more efficiently and using existing technologies to save energy, for example, in the manner in which we build buildings. There is much that can be done to build buildings in a way that conserves energy more efficiently. If we do that the energy savings are massive.

If we look back in history we see the manner in which we have employed new technologies to make buildings more efficient and to save energy, particularly with cars. We find that the bulk savings in greenhouse gas emissions and pollution are so large that they dwarf our commitments under Kyoto, which is very interesting.

We are saying that there are solutions out there. People have done the work in our country which demonstrates very clearly that we have the industrial capabilities and the technology to meet our Kyoto requirements and go beyond them. We know our Kyoto requirements will only affect a very small percentage of what we ought to be dealing with in terms of our emissions.

In summary, Canada must employ some key policy initiatives. First, in a rational economy energy should be developed and used in response to the demand for goods and services, not to produce energy for its own sake.

Second, emissions reduction strategies should be based on existing technologies that have been shown to be effective and economic.

Third, in the future Canadians will continue to expect economic growth and social mobility. Our low carbon scenario anticipates that we can have a 50% per capita reduction in GDP.

The implementation plan should not rely on punitive energy taxes. However a good plan should reflect the full cost of each energy option, including the subsidies that currently flow to petroleum and nuclear production, as well as health and environmental costs.

Energy from local small scale sources will encourage greater self-reliance and insulate consumers from geopolitical crises such as what we are seeing in the Middle East and large scale system failures as we have seen in other countries.

Working with these principles, Canada can achieve the following using existing technologies with current economic assumptions. The first is a doubling of the thermal efficiency of residential and commercial buildings. This again means using current technologies in the manner in which we build buildings that increase efficiencies in energy savings.

The second is a doubling of the fuel efficiency of truck fleets. There are technologies that can be applied to trucks that can greatly reduce pollution coming out the other end.

The third involves a tripling of the efficiency of the passenger car fleet and a doubling of the average efficiency of electrical devices including lighting, motors and appliances, a 1% per year improvement in the energy efficiency of industrial output, a phasing out of coal and less demands on other generating plants.

If we do that we will meet our economic targets, save money, meet our environmental standards and have a healthier environment.

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member on his rather great soccer play last night. For the record, members of Parliament lost to the European Union eight to one. We will get them the next time.

The member is absolutely correct when he says that even if we sign and ratify Kyoto the government will not have the courage to meet its commitments. I am in agreement with that. The fact is that anyone who has read Kyoto knows that at best it is the minimum requirements.

He knows very well that we in the western world make up 25% of the world's population. We eat up 75% of the world's resources. He is absolutely correct when he says that many companies are ignoring the government and going ahead with their own greenhouse reductions right now.

The member has a lot of people in his riding and he understands. We hear from the business community that Kyoto would be disastrous for the country and for workers. Yet he also knows that many workers and representatives of CEP, CAW and many others have agreed that Kyoto should be met.

Many of these workers are in his riding. Would he not agree with them? If the workers are ready to ratify Kyoto, why would his party not be ready to ratify Kyoto?

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, let me preface my comments by saying that my colleague and friend is the coach of our soccer team and did an exemplary job of leading us. We will do better the next time.

The reason our party does not want to support Kyoto is not because we are against reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We want a plan that will truly reduce greenhouse gas emissions without negatively affecting our economy.

Can it be done? Absolutely. That is what I articulated in this plan today. The technology exists today to meet our greenhouse gas emission targets while not affecting our economy. If we use that technology we will be able to do that.

Unfortunately Kyoto is a shell game. My friend knows full well that the government has made this into a shell game. We are to pay countries like Russia to buy the ability to produce greenhouse gases. We will produce the same amount of greenhouse gases and say disingenuously that we have met our commitments.

We have not met our commitments. All we have done is shunted our greenhouse gas emissions to another country by giving it the money to produce more greenhouse gases. That will do absolutely nothing to reduce greenhouse gases.

I ask the member to look at some of the work that has been done. The Sierra Club has done some good work. Ralph Torrie has done some good work. Others have done some excellent work in our country articulating specific solutions that can improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from homes, cars and trucks. If we employ them we will meet our commitments and go beyond them.

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like a little clarification from my colleague who did an excellent job in his speech today. Is he suggesting that we have a choice?

It seems on one hand we have a protocol that will lock us into limits on greenhouse gases which other countries do not have. Then, in order to reach those limits, we will have to take from $2 billion to $5 billion per year to pay another country to buy credits from it so that we can meet our standards.

We have information that there will be a tremendous impact on agriculture. The only study that has been done is out of the United States. It indicates that it will cost farm production billions of dollars and depress annual farm incomes by 24% to 48%.

Does the member not think it would be better if we had a made in Canada solution where we work together to set the standards for our own country and then spend our $2 billion to $5 billion in Canada to reach those standards rather than giving it to someone else to buy artificial credits?

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will reiterate to explain to the people who are listening what this means. Basically, the way the government has organized this to meet our Kyoto requirements, we as a country will give taxpayer money to a country like Russia. In exchange we will receive the ability to produce more carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions. Then we can say we have met our obligations but we have not in effect reduced our greenhouse gas emissions at all.

In short, we could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by doubling the thermal efficiency of residential and commercial buildings, doubling the fuel efficiency of truck fleets, tripling the efficiency of car fleets and doubling the average efficiency of electrical devices including lighting, motors and appliances. If we do that we will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and we will go beyond Kyoto.